There’s a bizarre gambling story unfolding in south Florida at the moment. A man was feeding cash into the slot machine but letting his friend pull the lever for ‘good luck’. After a few yanks of the handle and credits played from the man’s wallet, the jackpot went off for $100,000. This is where things get weird.
The Seminole Hard Rock Casino say that slot machine winnings go to the person who presses the button or pull the lever, not the person who puts the money into the machine. So, Jan Flato, the man who was feeding money into the slot machine which paid out $100,000 watched as casino officials awarded his money to Marina Medvedeva Navarro, a female friend of his.
When the bells and lights go off signaling the $100,000 this man must’ve assumed he was sitting pretty. After all, he’d been feeding all of the money into the machine. But, it was Marina Navarro who walked out of the casino holding $50,000 in cash and a check for an additional $50,000 (flanked by armed security), which left Jan Flato pissed as hell.
According to Navarro, she offered to split some portion of the winnings with Flato but rescinded that offer after a series of menacing text messages were sent to her. For his part, Jan Flato’s telling this story because he doesn’t want gamblers to get screwed over like he did. He thought he was just having fun with a friend, but since it was his money going into the machines that he’d be fine if a jackpot came up. Obviously, he was wrong. Jan Flato now wants to prevent you or me from fucking up and letting a six-figure jackpot fall into the wrong hands.
As for why he never took legal action against Navarro, Flato told the Miami Herald that no lawyer would take his case. The act of pushing the button or pulling the lever is basically universal law in the gambling world.
The entire time that I’m writing up this article I’m thinking to myself that I actually made this same mistake back in college. We were at a casino in Panama (I studied abroad in Panama City) and I was playing the nickel slots to kill time before dinner at some resort. I had to hit the bathroom so I tell my buddy to pull the lever while I’m gone. I didn’t get two steps away from the machine before it paid out for something like $500. Which, for the nickel slots is a hefty return. It was only $500, but to a couple of college kids, that’s a lot of money. In hindsight, the casino would’ve given him all the $$$$ and part of me wants to call him up and tell him about this article just so neither of us ever make this mistake again.